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Help DD with English

(16 Posts)
Bookmonster345 Wed 27-Aug-14 19:21:16

My DD is very academic, but especially talented in English. She is going into year 8 and regularly achieves level 7s, and absolutely loves reading and writing. On her request, we bought her a GCSE English language workbook, but I would like other ideas as to how to stretch her at home, as she doesn't seem to get challenged enough at her current school.

cansu Wed 27-Aug-14 20:21:35

I have taught some children achieving level 7 in year 7 and year 8 and tbh the best thing they can do is to continue to read widely and challenge themselves by reading a variety of text types. The most able students I have taught were voracious readers and also often enjoyed writing their own stories, poetry, articles etc. The workbooks you describe are usually deadly dull and I can't imagine will be more inspiring than a new author. She really just needs a library card and lots of interesting recommendations.

Bookmonster345 Thu 28-Aug-14 07:20:38

Thing is, she reads all the time anyway. When we went on holiday for twelve days she read a total of thirteen books, which were a mixture of biographies, non-fiction and fiction, and she also wrote an essay on the poem IF, about how the literacy devices he uses and what effect they have on the reader, all without any encouragement from me.

cansu Thu 28-Aug-14 07:59:17

Well then she is doing fine. I am really not sure why you feel she needs to be doing more english. Could she be working more on those subjects she finds harder?

cansu Thu 28-Aug-14 08:04:09

I would also say that I see very little point in extra work for the sake of it. She enjoys the subject and is doing very well. She reads widely and writes in her own time. Why should she be doing more? What about having fun, playing sports and generally enjoying her life? This is what I would be focussing on.

summerends Thu 28-Aug-14 08:37:26

I would encourage socialising and perhaps trying to read in the MFL she is learning if she is feeling herself that she wants another challenge.

DoctorDonnaNoble Thu 28-Aug-14 08:45:06

Or, there are lots of writing competitions out there that she could enter. The Guardian have a children's (and young people) review section on their web page that young writer's can contribute too. Many universities have writing competition that they don't promote very well (I stumble across the UEA one while applying for my Masters and one of my students won it!). A little bit of googling will find plenty. Some are free entry, and as she'll choose which ones she enters it will hopefully keep it fun!
I wouldn't worry about the GCSE English Language work yet. The other thing I would suggest is go to the theatre as much as possible as well.

notnowImreading Thu 28-Aug-14 09:03:16

I agree with DoctorDonna - theatre is the way to go. There may also be local writing schemes such as a local teen magazine that she could get involved in - if you can't find something online there may well be hard copies in the local library. There are also lots of writing websites where she could write a nove and get feedback from others chapter by chapter.

Reading-wise, if she is a voracious reader she might enjoy setting herself challenges e.g. (I am a saddo) I once challenged myself to read through the history of England chronologically from 1066 onwards through novels. It was easily do-able, enjoyable and means that as an adult I am very useful in a pub quiz.

Building her general knowledge will add richness to her understanding of what she reads so it's a good idea to encourage her to find out the background to what she is reading, e.g. Googling bits of information she doesn't understand or historical figures, places, events, bits of science etc mentioned in fiction. If she gets into the Victorian classics, it's definitely worth getting her to understand the religious and intellectual background by learning about different mythologies including the bible (Old Testament stories and the Song of Solomon for poetry), Greek myths, Norse myths etc.

Watch good live Shakespeare. You never lose that experience of your first amazing theatre performance. For teenage girls, if you can find a tragedy starring a hot male lead, it can be, erm, formative. The Roman plays are good for this (breastplate, earnest morality, bare legs, fighting). The National Theatre Live cinema streaming of plays is great if you don't live near a good theatre.

Encourage any interest in the background to books she loves - visit places, follow up enthusiasms.

It's not extra 'work' if it's what she loves. Keeping the tone intellectual and expecting her to have strong enthusiasms and opinions, never assuming that something is too old or difficult for her, and always talking about what she is interested in is what helps the most.

Asterisk Thu 28-Aug-14 11:26:51

Just a word of warning - GCSE English is a disappointment to those who love English. The analysis is quite constrained, in my opinion, and the writing tasks are banal. I would endorse the views of those above that you decouple love of reading/writing from school English. My DD, who loves English and has always achieved very highly, had to severely curb her enthusiasm to focus on hitting the mark scheme to do well in GCSEs. She did end up with an A* (after the shock of a B in the mocks), but this was down to nailing exam technique and resisting putting in breadth and context. I do hope A-level English will be a bit more rewarding, because, like Art, the GCSE curriculum tends to be a bit of a passion-killer.

antimatter Thu 28-Aug-14 11:34:33

Challenge for her would be to read classic literature.
What has she read so far?

Reading foreign literature can be very interesting -

Take her to literary festivals - there are few around the country.

Bookmonster345 Thu 28-Aug-14 13:22:28

These are all very good ideas! Thank you so much thanks.
Antimatter, so far she has read Jane Eyre, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, 13 scary short stories by Edgar Allen Poe, A Christmas Carol and The Women in Black. She does have some books in French to help with her MFL, which she reads regularly, and we try to go and see a Shakespeare play at least three times a year.

antimatter Thu 28-Aug-14 13:44:43

Sugest Les Miserables to your dd. My dd enjoyed it.

Bookmonster345 Thu 28-Aug-14 15:18:33

She watched the film Les Miserables and loved it, so I'm sure she'd enjoy the books, thanks antimatter!

DoctorDonnaNoble Thu 28-Aug-14 18:06:26

Asterisk - don't worry A Level is much better! I teach OCR and we get free choice of texts when it comes to coursework and the like. I've had great fun teaching Feminism at A Level (I work in a boys' school with a small number of girls in the sixth form). It's brilliant. Well, not quite as free and easy as a degree but certainly better!

TheWordFactory Thu 28-Aug-14 19:22:18

asterisk completely agree that deep analysis of literature is not what gets good grades . My Dd has been told to reign it in for exams and CAs.

antimatter Fri 29-Aug-14 13:10:51

Look - another literary festival coming smile

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